We tapped travel expert, Lauren Bath (@laurenepbath) to show us all that Macao has to offer. From a foodie’s paradise to a melting pot of cultures, Lauren gives us an inside look at why Macao should be on our bucket lists.
I’ve been to Macao before, so it actually wasn’t on my bucket list at all anymore! Unfortunately for me, I’d only scraped the surface of what was on offer during my first visit. Like so many travellers before me I made the common mistake of tagging a day trip onto my holiday in neighbouring Hong Kong, thinking only to tick another destination off the list.
Reasons Why Macao Should be on Your Bucket List
So here I was, back in Macao but definitely experiencing it for the first time. Rather than staying in the glamorous Cotai area, I was based on the Macao Peninsula, the most populous part of Macao. Over here the city is teeming with history and boasts a fascinating juxtaposition of Chinese tradition and Portuguese influence, not that surprising since Portugal controlled Macao from 1557 to 1999. It felt like a different world to Cotai, but here’s the thing; you can experience so many different worlds in Macao and all of them within an area of 32.9 square kilometres. This is my take on why Macao should be on your bucket list:
The Portuguese Influence
Us Australians love travelling to Asia. It’s close, it’s fun and it’s usually cheaper than back home. My first overseas destination was Thailand and my second was Indonesia. But in no other place that I’ve been have I seen such a melting pot of cultures. The Portuguese influence shows up everywhere! In the gorgeous bay windows and art of the Grand Lapa hotel where I stayed, in the colourful buildings scattered in pockets around the city, in the historical churches and ruins and especially in the Portuguese egg custard tarts that you can buy on every street corner.
The Chinese Influence
One minute you can be surrounded by European streets, architecture and landmarks and the next you’re turning a corner into the Orient. Although there are too many photogenic Chinese streets to name, the one that has to be recommended is Happiness Street. Happiness street is literal happiness. Bright red homes, Chinese restaurants tucked away behind unassuming facades and great souvenirs.
The Glitz and Glamour of Cotai
After a short taxi ride over the bridge to Cotai I could have sworn I’d been in a time machine. My first stop was The Wynn Palace, but every single luxury hotel exceeds expectations. There are water parks, there are gondola rides, there’s a free cable experience, there’s Vegas-style attractions and shows and world class dining. There’s even a mini-Eiffel tower that’s not so mini. Where else in the world can you be in Portugal one minute, China the next and Las Vegas the next?
If you love food, then you will not be disappointed by a visit to Macao. I ate in all manner of establishments and count the dining amongst some of the best I’ve experienced in the world. I ate a classic Portuguese meal at the famous “Antonio” Taipa Village. I enjoyed the famous Fontana Restaurant at the Wynn Palace for an international buffet the likes of which I have never seen before. I ate more custard tarts from Lord Stow’s bakery in Coloane Village than I care to count, and I even sat down to a three-course fine-dining Italian meal at the iconic Grand Lisboa. Add in the street food, hawker food and a whirlwind visit to the iconic Long Wa Teahouse and I definitely didn’t go hungry on my trip. Macao is a foodie paradise.
I know that it’s intangible, but I challenge anyone to visit Macao and not feel the powerful buzz that pulses below the surface of the city. It’s a feeling of … anything being possible. There’s art, there’s culture, there’s different worlds combining. The city seems to have a life of its own. Whether you’re catching a world class show in Cotai or slurping noodles at a hawker stand, you can feel it.
Here’s my advice … make a week of it. Do all the things. Visit the historic parts, and the new. Sink your teeth into the destination and embrace it all. Make sure to do lots of sightseeing on foot, that’s when I discovered most of my favourite places. Finally… eat all the things!
Discover your own perfect blend of Macao and add this city as a must to your bucket list.